How To Clean A Flat Screen TV Without Streaks

Back in the day a little Windex and a paper towel were all it took to get heavy, glass screen cathode ray TVs clean. These days you can leave streaks or even scratch the screen on a flat screen TV or monitor.

Read on to learn how to clean your TV the right way!

Cleaning Items Needed for a Flat Screen TV

cleaning items needed for a flat screen tv

Today’s flat-screen TVs need a gentler hand. Harsh chemicals can damage delicate TV screens, even removing the anti-glare coating on computer screens.

Electronics stores sell all-in-one electronics cleaning kits for $20 or more, but you probably have nearly everything you need at home already. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber is a lint-free material that won’t leave any fuzz or dust behind on the TV screen. It’s super absorbent and soft enough for even the most delicate screens.

Start with at least three:

  • One for dry dusting
  • One for water, vinegar, and alcohol
  • One for the final dry wipe-down.

Distilled Water in a Spray Bottle

Distilled water is usually all it takes to clean a flat-screen TV. A spray bottle makes it easy to get just the right amount of water on your cloth.

If you don’t have distilled water on hand, you can use bottled water or even tap, but using distilled water is the best way to get a streak-free finish.

Spray Bottle with Distilled White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

Skip the harsh cleaners and go for plain white vinegar or rubbing alcohol for more stubborn stains.

These two liquids are strong enough for tough smudges and gentle enough for delicate screens.

How to Clean a Flat Screen TV Without Streaks

how to clean a flat screen tv without streaks

Improper cleaning techniques can damage a delicate flat-screen TV, leaving streaks, scratches, and even removing the finish so it definitely pays to be careful!

Flat Screen TV Cleaning Steps

Step 1: Turn Off the TV

A backlit screen makes it challenging to see streaks and smudges. Turn off the TV before you start so you can see your work clearly and get all the dirt off in one go.

Step 2: Dust Gently with a Dry Microfiber Cloth

Take a clean, dry microfibre cloth and gently wipe down the screen to remove any dust and light smudges.

Any dust on the screen can cause more streaks and smudges, so give the screen a thorough (but light) dusting before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Spray a Cloth with Water or Gentle Liquid and Wipe

Spray the cleaning cloth – not the television screen – with distilled water or a gentle screen cleaning solution.

Tap water is fine if that’s all you’ve got, but be sure to dry thoroughly, as a lot of municipal water contains minerals that can leave residue and streaks behind.

Wipe the screen gently with the damp cloth, using gentle circular motions to lightly buff smudges.

Resist the temptation to scrub, as flat screens – especially LCD screens – can be damaged by too much pressure. For stubborn smears and streaks, move on to Step 4.

Step 4: Use Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol for Smudges and Gunk

If water doesn’t get everything off, you can dilute distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle with equal water. Spray it on the cloth, not the screen, and wipe the screen gently with the damp cloth.

If that still doesn’t do the trick, try the same treatment with isopropyl alcohol.

It’s gentle enough for screens yet strong enough to take off stubborn smudges and gunk. Plus, it kills germs!

Step 5: Final Wipe with a Clean, Dry Cloth

One final pass with another clean microfiber cloth – not the one(s) you used the water, vinegar, or alcohol on – as the screen dries will remove any last bits of moisture, eliminating the risk of streaks.

Flat Screen Cleaning Tips

flat screen tv cleaning tips

Here are a few tips to help you get your flat-screen TV squeaky clean without any scratches, residue, or streaks.

Use a Soft Cloth and NEVER Paper Towels or Abrasive Materials

Microfiber is the gentlest screen cleaner to use on delicate plasma, LED, and LCD TV screens, but any soft cloth will do.

Avoid paper towels and other abrasive materials as they can scratch TV screens.

Don’t Use Chemical Sprays

The harsh chemicals in traditional household cleaning solutions can damage the finish on LED, LCD, and plasma TV screens.

If possible, stick with distilled water, touching up tough spots with white vinegar or isopropyl alcohol as needed.

Use a Fresh, Clean Cloth Only

Don’t pull just any old cleaning cloth out of your laundry hamper. Any dirt or residue left behind on a dirty cloth could scratch or damage the TV screen. Always start with fresh cleaning cloths.

Don’t Spray the Screen Directly

A flat-screen TV has buttons, ports, and speakers inside it. Spraying the screen directly risks getting lots of delicate instrumentation wet, which would ruin the TV.

Spray the cloth first then wipe the screen with the damp cloth.

Keep the TV Turned Off for Cleaning

Any smudges or streaks will be easier to see without the backlight of the TV screen, so keep it off while you’re cleaning it to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind.

Easy Option: Ready-Made Flat Screen Monitor / TV Wipes

easy option: ready made flat screen monitor / tv wipes

If you’re short on time or just don’t want to go through the hassle of multiple cloths and cleaning solutions, you can buy premoistened flat screen cleaning wipes.

Unlike paper towels and other abrasive materials, these wipes are made for cleaning screens, so they won’t scratch delicate plasma, LCD, and LED screens.

Can you use baby wipes to clean TV screens?

No, you should never use baby wipes to clean TV screens. Baby wipes are mildly abrasive and loaded with chemicals and moisturizing solutions which can leave residue and streaks and may even scratch your screen.

How to Clean a TV Without a Microfiber Cloth

how to clean a tv without a microfiber cloth

Any clean, dry, lint-free cloth will do if you don’t have a microfiber cloth. Common microfiber substitutes include 100 percent cotton cloth diaper inserts, linen cloths, or flannel.

In a pinch, you can even use a clean cotton t-shirt, but avoid paper towels and other abrasive materials. Also, never use a cloth or clothing that has been lying around and exposed to dirt (or example on the floor or an unclean area).

Those may have picked up particles that will scratch the screen when you move them across it.

Can I Use Windex on a Flat-Screen TV?

can i use windex on a flat screen tv

No, you should never use a window cleaner like Windex on a flat-screen TV.

Window and glass cleaners, like other household cleaners, often contain harsh chemicals like ammonia that can damage the finish on a flat-screen TV.

How Do I Get Water Streaks Off My TV screen?

how do i get water streaks off my tv screen

Excess moisture on the screen left behind during cleaning can cause streaks and residue. Buff it gently with a clean, dry microfiber cloth if you notice streaks after wiping down your TV screen.

Next time, do this immediately after cleaning to prevent streaks from happening in the first place.

James Marshall
About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »